When you have friends in from out-of-town and you are left with the quest of taking them out, the same question always comes up, “where are we going?” Inevitably, you end up going to the same places because you can’t remember the rest. Well, at Hayo Magazine we always want to know what people in their cities prefer and we want to help you remember the good spots of the city.
We interviewed food reporter Erin Ireland to give us some tips on where to eat in Vancouver and where she enjoys a true Vancouverite experience. Ireland is the creator of To Die For, and you have probably tried her delicious banana bread or lemon loaf in one of the local cafés. Her main interest is not only to find food that tastes good, but that is also ethically-sourced, i.e. how and where the ingredients were grown before they ended up on your plate.
In that respect Erin, how do you see the farm to table movement taking place in Vancouver?
The farm to table movement is completely taking over the Vancouver food scene in the best way possible. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a new restaurant that isn’t extremely focused on its sources. Many of them even list their suppliers on their menu.
That’s interesting to see. So, how would you describe the current gastronomic landscape of the city?
Over the past 15 years, our food scene has blown up. I think it’s safe to say, we are now, officially, a city with a very exciting restaurant scene that’s worth travelling to to discover. And there’s constantly an exciting list of anticipated restaurants opens.
What would you say is Vancouver’s signature dish?
The Kale Caesar salad. Or, if kale is really “last year’s ingredient”, how about deep fried cauliflower or brussel sprouts? I think we’ll continue to see these types of dishes appearing on local menus.
- SEE ALSO: Best brunch in Vancouver
Excellent! Now, let’s get into your restaurant recommendations.
This is the list of Erin’s choices. All links and directions are included in the map. You can also save this map by clicking the SAVE icon right besides the heart.
Which place, in your opinion, offers a real Vancouverite experience?
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro. Not just for its name. This cozy restaurant displays local artwork on its walls and its local ingredient sources are listed on the menu. Warm Kale Salad, the All-Canadian Poutine and Mussels are just a few of the “Canadian” dishes you should try.
Which are the places that are innovating Vancouver’s culinary landscape?
Burdock and Co. Chef Andrea Carlson is committed to organic, local sourcing. With her focus on sustainability, she’s setting an example for young and old chefs alike.
The Acorn Restaurant is another innovator in the industry. They prove that vegetarian and vegan food can create line-ups. Every city in the world needs more restaurants with a plant-based focus.
What are your favourite hidden gems?
Roundel Cafe for brunch. I’m shocked by the fact they don’t have a line-up out their door like their hugely successful neighbour The Red Wagon. Their dishes are filling, delicious and lovingly made with ethically grown ingredients. Try the unique but fabulous omelette with walnuts, blue cheese and carrots.
And favourite trucks?
Culvercity Salads is the perfect healthy option when you’re needing a big, energy-packed meal. Christina Culver’s tahini-based dressings are oil-free and so delicious, they’re even drinkable.
I also love Vij’s Railway, where you can enjoy what’s often considered Canada’s best Indian fusion for street food prices.
People say there’s no other sushi like in Vancouver, so where’s the best sushi in the city?
Miku and Minami are probably the most well-known of Vancouver’s truly excellent sushi spots, so I’m going to go with Octopus Garden on Cornwall where diners enjoy privacy thanks to Japanese linen curtains and near-perfectly executed dishes. Sashimi is sliced properly, rice is seasoned to perfection and fish is always served at the proper temperature.
Your top 3 restaurant recommendations for locals or visitors?
Hawksworth for a fancy, fine dining-style dinner. I truly believe this is one of Canada’s best dining experiences.
Tacofino’s new Taco Bar in Gastown for mind-blowing tacos and a fun, casual night out.
Burdock and Co. is always a hit. Every element of their menu is a ten out of ten, from their craft cocktails to their organic natural wine list to Chef Andrea Carlson’s skillful cooking.
Who’s your favourite local chef?
I don’t have a favourite local chef but I truly admire what Chef Brian Skinner is doing. After moving on from The Acorn, his first baby, he launched a series of creative pop-up dinners — one of which is going down in history as one of the best meals of my life. I’m excited to see what he has in store for the near future.
Have you tried any interesting pop-ups or supper clubs in the city you would recommend?
Aside from what I mentioned, I’m also loving what Juno Kim is doing at 33 Acres Brewing Co. Every Monday night, he takes over their kitchen to create one appy, one meat entree and one vegetarian entree. His dishes are as beautiful as they are tasty.
Favorite bakeries and dessert spots?
Beaucoup Bakery. A trip to Paris left me believing that we truly have the best croissant in the world right here in Vancouver.
Mosquito in Gastown is a new dessert and champagne lounge that I’m excited to check out. We haven’t seen this concept in several years and with a room so beautiful (designed by Craig Stanghetta) I have high hopes the desserts will be up to the same standards.
- SEE ALSO: Best macarons in Vancouver
Do you have a food related event that you always look forward to?
Okanagan Wine Festivals. I can’t narrow it down to just one as they’re all pretty magical. We’re so lucky to have our very own wine country just a four-hour drive away — and the festivals are wonderful parties with more food and wine than anyone can handle.
Favorite places that you can go with Effie?
The Kits Dog Beach. It’s one of our favourite happy places. You can always count on lots of other dogs to be there and staring out at the Pacific is always calming. And major plus, Rain or Shine (one of my favourite ice cream shops) is just up the street.
Best places to try ethnic food?
House of Dosas on Kingsway is incredible. Their dosas are as big as baseball bats and as plentiful in flavour as they are in portion. The eggplant curry is another must-try.
Any recently opened place that has surprised you?
Propaganda Coffee on East Pender. I love seeing more and more quality, independently-owned cafes popping up around town. It’s so great to see them thrive. It must mean we’re in the midst of a coffee shop revolution, in which customers are recognizing the benefits of supporting local (better coffee, healthier snack options, benefits to our economy). I have full faith Propaganda will be another success story.